27 July, 2013. Saturday of the Sixteenth Week
Exod 24:3ff. During the covenant sacrifice on Sinai, blood is sprinkled on the people and the altar, showing that their life united with God.
Matt 13:24ff. The wheat and weeds must grow together. At harvest the weeds will be burned and the wheat will be gathered in the barn.
First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30
He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
A Covenant of Justice
Exodus ends with the “Book of the Covenant,” the heart of the Torah. Its high point is the public ratification of the covenant, in a memorable ceremony symbolising the union between God and the people. A little later in the chapter, a sacred meal is added to signify the same result, the peace between God and the people. This symbolism is repeated, with some modification, in our Eucharistic service. Over the chalice the priest repeats Jesus’ words: “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.”
Today’s gospel advises patience and hope in face of wrongdoing by others. If weeds are detected in a wheat field and the prophet-servants want to go out and pull them up, the master says, “No! If you pull up the weeds and you might take the wheat along with them.” It is not that God tolerates evil forever, but allows plenty of time for the harvest to be properly brought home.